Falaj Hili: Redefining Water Irrigation Systems in Region

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AL AIN, November 7th, 2018 (WAM) — The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi discovered one of the oldest aqueduct systems in the Hili region of Al Ain, dating back to the Iron Age. ‘Falaj Hili 15’, or the Hili Aqueduct 15, is considered an important discovery, as it provides historians and archaeologists with a new understanding about inhabitants of the region and their settlements, which were initially thought to have dated back to 700 BC.

This discovery was corroborated with the excavation of pottery fragments scattered across the Falaj site dating back to 1200 BC, evidence of settlement populations in the region. Excavations first began in 1983 and carried on for six years ending in 1989.

The Hili Falaj is an intricately-designed aqueduct system that allows for water distribution from mountainous areas to inhabited regions. The water supplies provided via the aqueduct helped provide valuable freshwater resources for drinking and agricultural irrigation.

The Falaj system is divided into multiple sections, that begins with an underground aquifer located near a mountainous area and is the primary source of water. The aquifer connects to a series of underground tunnels, which then lead to surface-level canals that allow for the flow of freshwater to the main access point, otherwise known as a ‘Shari’a’, leading to an open cistern from which water is then allocated via administrative mechanisms and systems applied during that time.

The aqueducts are dependent on an underground aquifer, or water source, he said, adding that underground channels then allow the passage of water to surface-level tunnels, which then carry water to a Shari’a, that leads to an open cistern. This main access point allows for water to be allocated to inhabitants and farmers for irrigation and agricultural development.

The Head of Al Ain Archaeology Division at DCT Abu Dhabi, Ali Abdulrahman Al Meqbali, said, “The aqueducts helped change the course of human settlement. Initially, inhabitants were scattered in mountainous areas, because during the Bronze Age individuals depended on wells for their water resources. However, with the advent of aqueducts, settlement patterns changed, and inhabitants dispersed during the Iron Age. This also had an impact on production patterns of silt and clay items, including pottery jars used for storage of grains, as well as developing systems that allowed for managing the allocation of water via the Falaj Building,” he concluded. (WAM)